Because I’m going to talk about works, I’ll start this message with a very clear statement: we are not saved by anything we do. We are saved solely by the grace of God through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. To be offered that gift of grace, we must first come to an understanding from deep within our hearts that we are sinners through and through and that we are hopeless and desperate before God Almighty. When we reach that point, when we understand that we are nothing before Him, then, and only then, have we reached a point where we can accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives. And accept His Lordship we must. If He is not our Master, if we cannot accept that He must be, then we have no gift, we have no salvation. That is the true, harsh, and unadulterated message of the Gospel. Yes, it is Good News. It is Good News to those who have come to the realization of what we really are before a perfect and holy God. It is with fear, trepidation, and awe that we dare approach Him and only because of the sacrifice of His Son. That is what the Cross permits.
That isn’t to say we won’t make mistakes. That isn’t to say that we are saved and suddenly we stop sinning. We do. Paul lamented about how he didn’t do the things he wanted to do but did do the things he ought not. That is the struggle every Christian faces in this world. But over time, our works will testify as to whether or not we’ve accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. Our works will show whether we have chosen to stand with Hiim or stand against Him. We see this in the following verses:
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” – John 3:19-21, NASB
This isn’t the only place in Scripture John says this.
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:5-7, NASB
and we see James say the same thing:
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. – James 2:14-17, NASB
When people come forward, saying they have accepted Christ, we are often quick to acknowledge it. But we often do so without any evidence other than the words of the person. The truth of the matter is I have seen close friends who have come forward and proclaimed to have accepted Christ but years later there is no evidence of such a walk with the Savior. This would indicate that their salvation wasn’t genuine, that it may have been a en emotional or intellectual response, but certainly not one from the heart. And to those I can only shake my head in sadness and hope and pray that there is still time for them to come to know Jesus as their Lord.
If we are truly believers in Christ, our actions should reflect it. In today’s world, this is sometimes a very difficult thing to do. But as we look at the history of Christendom, it’s never been an easy thing. There has always been persecution of one sort or another. There has always been suffering. There has always been contention with the world. We cannot let those things dissuade us. Rather, we must walk as children of the Light, and that means living as Christ would want us to live. Given that it is a hard thing to do, we must seek each and every opportunity to encourage one another and let each other know that there is a we. There is no individual going it alone. We are not Jesus praying at Gethsemane. We have Jesus and our brethren because of Jesus at Gethsemane and onward onto the Cross and the grave! So as you begin this week, remember that if Christ is your Lord, God is with you. Christ Himself has promised never to leave you, nor forsake you. This is the holy and perfect God Almighty making such a glorious promise! Therefore, as Jesus told us, let our light so shine before men that they will see our good works, our works that are indicative of the Light of Christ within us, and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).